In light of worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR, the Gurugram district magistrate in Haryana on Thursday banned the burning of waste materials such as garbage, leaves, plastic and rubber.
The order comes even as the central government ordered a ban on non-essential construction work in Delhi-NCR as a thick layer of pungent haze obscured the national capital’s skyline with pollution levels entering the “severe” zone for the first time this season.
“It has been brought to my notice as District Magistrate of Gurugram, that due to the onset of adverse meteorological conditions in the pre-winter and winter seasons, there is a significant deterioration in the air quality of Gurugram, posing serious health hazards to the inhabitants of the city. And whereas, it has been observed that the burning of waste materials, including but not limited to garbage, leaves, plastic, rubber, and other combustible materials, is contributing to the escalation of air pollution levels, leading to the concentration of particulate matter and toxic gases in the air,” district magistrate, Gurugram, Nishant Kumar Yadav said in the order.
“The burning of waste materials of any kind, in open areas, streets, backyards, or within the industrial, residential, or rural zones of Gurugram district, is strictly prohibited… Individuals, groups, or entities found to be in violation of this order shall be penalized in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law,” Yadav added.
The Delhi government has also called an emergency meeting on Friday to review the situation. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced that all government and private primary schools in the city will remain closed for the next two days.
The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was 402 at 5 pm, the worst this season so far. The 24-hour average AQI was 364 on Wednesday, 359 on Tuesday, 347 on Monday, 325 on Sunday, 304 on Saturday, and 261 on Friday.
Several cities in neighbouring Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh also reported hazardous air.
These included Hanumangarh (438) and Sri Ganganagar (359) in Rajasthan; Hisar (414), Fatehabad (423), Jind (413), Rohtak (388), Sonepat (374), Kurukshetra (343), Karnal (343), Kaithal (379), Bhiwani (355), Faridabad (368) and Gurugram (297) in Haryana; and Ghaziabad (286), Noida (313) and Greater Noida (402) in Uttar Pradesh.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
This action comes as part of Stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) — the Centre’s air pollution control plan which is implemented in the region during the winter season.
GRAP categorises actions into four stages: Stage I – ‘poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘very poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘severe plus’ (AQI above 450).
Haryana estimates that about 14.82 lakh hectares of land in the state are under paddy cultivation, expected to generate over 7.3 million tonnes of paddy straw (non-basmati). The state is making efforts to nearly eliminate farm fires this year.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai announced on Wednesday that the city government would ban construction work in areas where the AQI remains above the 400-mark for five consecutive days.
(With inputs from agencies)